I love the elf on the shelf trend, I don’t care if it makes parents spend more money on Christmas, I personally think it helps make the whole month magical and can remind parents of the magic too.
I first started Elf on the Shelf when Poppy and Mitch were 10 and 6. My cousin had some wonderful ideas and I couldn’t wait to try them out. Now we do it every year but we have a new addition, Percy. This year, she’s 3 and like a sponge, believing in Father Christmas and all the magic he brings. She’s loving the elf on the shelf.
It does cost a little extra as there are treats that wouldn’t usually be bought, but I’ve found, after 4 years, that there are ways to save money on cheap elf on the shelf ideas. Namely doing it all myself and using little treats I’d normally give without an explanation (such as some chocolate coins) as a treat from the elves.
All through December I’ll be bringing you an idea a day for your elf on the shelf and it needn’t cost the earth. Just follow us on Facebook or Twitter and you’ll see the ideas as they appear.
1. Save Money from the Start
See our featured image as you don’t have to spend oodles of cash on a elf. If you Google elves to buy, you’ll be presented with a range of options and few less than £20. I made up a little story about how they choose their bodies, as they are magical afterall! The TY beanies are really affordable and there are many Christmas variations. We chose these little fellas and they come out every year.
2. Write Your Own Letter
Buying personalised elf on the shelf letters online is a quick way to add to the experience but really, by the time you’ve checked out you could have written the letter yourself.
Here’s the one I wrote for our children this year,Dear Mitchell, Poppy and Percy Mr Christmas here, better known as Santa. My what a busy year you’ve had, moving to Devon, starting new schools and growing that little bit taller. Now we’ve got a little surprise for you. The elves are back. They’ve chosen these little bodies as they have been so well looked after by Poppy all year and so they wanted to return. They’ll be here until Christmas Eve, when I’ll send their passports so they can come back to the North Pole at the stroke of midnight. They’ve got a lot of fun planned for you this year as you’ve been so very good but it’s not time to stop being well behaved just yet. Every day they’ll send me a report card on if you’ve been naughty or nice. On Christmas Eve I’ll then decide if you’ve been good enough to receive your presents. Now this year, I know it may be a bit different as you’ve your mummy to look after too but a little birdy told me she’s really looking forward to lots of time off playing with you, even if she needs help lifting and walking! Now we have rules for the elves as you know. Here they are:
- No touching the elves at all. They’ll shoot straight back to the North Pole if you do.
- The elves only move when you’re not watching
- Keep an eye on the elves every day as they can be quite naughty.
- Write me a letter if you think they have been up to no good
- Look after the elves by leaving them little treats, they’ll take them when you’re not looking.
- Show the naughty elves how to behave they will learn from you, if you’re good, they’re good.
- The elves will keep a close eye on you, along with the fairy I’ve sent for the top of the tree, they’ll be making sure you don’t peek at any presents.
I also took advantage of the Microsoft templates and quickly printed out a certificate that entitles the children to the elves until Christmas Day.
They will get their passports on New Year’s Eve and there will be a goodbye letter.
3. Use What you Have
The first time I did elf on the shelf I spent a fortune coming up with presents every single day for 3 children. I’ve found there’s no need to do this now. We have themes, so a movie night can include popcorn (which we get on the shop already) and a film off Sky+. Charity shops and carboots are great for finding nearly new books for a storytime theme. The poundshop is also fantastic for little bits and bobs, such as decorate your own gingerbread man and chocolate coins.
We also rely a LOT on Lindt depending on how good the children have been. We buy the little bears for treats and if one has done particularly well at school (or slept the whole night through for our toddler) they’ll get a bigger one with a necklace on. We call them medal bears and Poppy, our 10 year old daughter now has quite the collection.
These are from last year, she saves them all. She has more from this year to add!
4. Be Fun
When I first suggested that my husband pout makeup all over his face and pretend the elves got him as he slept he looked at me as if I’d lost the plot. Then when he heard the giggles from the children he was converted. He now dresses up as an elf and gets up to all sorts, blaming those naughty little elves!
5. Use Your Imagination
The elves are sent to us to learn good behaviour as Santa can’t handle their naughty ways in the run up to Christmas. The children learned this is the first year and this year’s letter just has a small reference to it. The elves have got up to allsorts in the past. Tying up Santa decorations from the lights, spraying fake snow all over the kid’s beds (when they were going in the wash that day anyway), turning the fridge into a snowman (with a £1 snowman magnet kit from Poundland). They’ve also crept into the children’s lunchboxes and taken a trip to school and left trails of sweets for hide and seek.
For the movie night this year we have some DVDs we got 3 for 2. Mike the Knight and Thomas the Tank Engine. We usually produce a copy of POlar Express or Santa Claus the movie along with iBelieve bells. These are a pound for a pack of ten, and the ribbon that says, I believe can be found at Country Baskets or DoCrafts
6. Give Gifts You Would Anyway
Most children see santa in December, or have a trip to the cinema. We turn these into gifts from the elves. For example, we have tickets to a drive in movie in Manchester and VIP passes to see Santa nearby.
7. Christmas Eve
On Christmas Eve the elves bring warm cosy pyjamas, slippers, hot chocolate, whipped cream, marshmallows and more. They also bring report cards and a list of Santa’s dietry requirements (for the mince pie, glass of milk and carrots). They’ll have their passports ready to go back to the North Pole but won’t disappear until Christmas morning, when the presents usually rule out any sad feeling.
Although occasionally it’s hard work and it is a little more expensive, it does bring the spirit of Christmas alive and lets mum and dad be a bit sillier too.
All through December we’re giving elf on the shelf ideas on Twitter and Facebook. Just follow us to get your one a day!
More Details on the Manchester Drive In
Manchester Magical Drive In Movie Spectacular
Manchester United Football Club, Sir Matt Busby Way, Old Trafford, Manchester M16 0RA
Friday 19-Wednesday 24 December 2014
£26 per car (unlimited guests per car – every passenger must have a seat and a seatbelt)
A supersized festive drive in offers the pick of Christmas classics without even getting out of your car – on the biggest LED screen ever seen in Manchester.
In the run up to Christmas, family favourites including Frozen, Elf, Gremlins and Home Alone will be shown in high resolution on the state of the art screen. Costing £1.2million, the enviable device is 100 metres square and one of just three in the world.
The pop up drive in – called Manchester Magical Drive In Movie Spectacular – will take up residence in the grounds of Manchester United Football Club for six days only from 19 December, with its finale on Christmas Eve.
With three showings each day, cinema goers are encouraged to turn up early to enjoy pre-show live entertainment. Live appearances from favourite children’s characters are promised, plus in-car karaoke – or caraoke if you will.
There’s no need to miss a word of your favourite films, as sound will be piped straight to your car stereo. Just tune your radio to Santa FM for the ultimate in in-car entertainment.
Throughout the showings, the Magical Drive In elves will be on patrol to reward good boys and girls with prizes from Santa. So be on your best behaviour. Organisers are encouraging people to get into the festive spirit and festive jumpers, onesies and fancy dress are all welcomed.
Film fans are welcome to bring their own food and drink (non alcoholic), but we are not to be held responsible if they then miss out on the delights of the drive in’s own street food market.
Toilets are available on site.
More details can be found at https://christmasmovies.co.uk/
Full listings for the Manchester Magical Drive In Movie Spectacular:
2.30pm Frozen (sing a long)
6.30pm Home Alone
Saturday 20 December
2.30pm The Nightmare Before Christmas
6.30pm The Muppet Christmas Carol
10.30pm Black Xmas
Sunday 21 December
2.30pm The Polar Express
5.30pm Frozen (sing along)
Monday 22 December
2.30pm Home Alone
5.30pm Miracle on 34th Street
Tuesday 23 December
2.30pm White Christmas
5.30pm It’s a Wonderful Life
10pm Die Hard
Wednesday 24 December
10.30am Frozen (sing a long)
4.30pm The Muppet Christmas Carol